No change in policy to promote terror groups against India
Pakistan has to do much more than prosecuting Hafiz Saeed, the Mumbai terror attack mastermind and the chief of the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), who was sentenced on Thursday to ten years imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore. Saeed, an UN-designated terrorist on whose head the US has placed a bounty of $10 million, was arrested by the Pakistan government last year on charges of financing terrorist activities. In February this year Saeed was sentenced to 11 years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan in two terror financing cases. On Thursday, Saeed’s two lieutenants – Zafar Iqbal and Yahya Mujahid – too were sentenced to ten and a half years each, while the JuD chief’s brother-in-law Abdul Rehman Makki was sentenced to six months. A total of 41 cases have been registered by the Pakistani investigative agencies against Saeed and other JuD men, out of which 24 have been decided. Saeed, who is lodged at the Lahore’s high-security Kot Lakhpat jail, has been convicted in four cases.
There is no doubt that the Pakistan government has been under the pressure of the US and the UN to take action against the terrorist groups that have been operating from their soil. At one time the US even threatened to impose economic sanctions against Pakistan if the country failed to eliminate the terrorist groups that were carrying out attacks on US citizens and assets. The Jamat-ud-Dawa is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that carried out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans. Pakistan has been funding, training, arming and directing terror groups against India for years. Its intention behind it has been to keep the issue of Kashmir alive in the international mind. If there are killings and explosions in Kashmir, Pakistani leaders think, the world opinion will put pressure on India. All said and done, Kashmir has been an emotive issue in India and Pakistan. The national psyche in either country refuses to think of the other country but in hostile terms. All political parties of Pakistan have exploited this psyche to gain popularity. The coalescing of the interests of the Pakistani state and the Pakistani political parties is what has made the Pakistani army a recruiting, training, arming and guiding machine for terrorist groups to carry out lethal actions in India.
Official figures have it that between 2014 and 2018, the number of terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir rose by about 180 percent. The biggest attack during the period was Pulwama in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. During the period the number of security personnel dying in terror attacks in the state almost doubled. In 2019 there were 133 attempts by Pakistani terrorists to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir. According to an official report, of the 257 militants killed in 2018 at least 142 were from Jammu and Kashmir and the remaining 115 were ‘foreigners’. The ‘foreigners’ were from Pakistan, though the country never claimed their bodies. Of the 152 militants killed in 2019, 120 were locals and 32 were ‘foreigners’. According to reports, radicalism has been growing in Jammu and Kashmir during the past few years.
India has been most vocal against promotion of terrorism by Pakistan, because its is the biggest victim. Pakistan has been using terror groups to promote its interests also in Afghanistan. However, the voices of India and Afghanistan have been of lesser influence on the world opinion than those of the US and other European nations. And that is what has built up pressure on Pakistan to investigate and prosecute terror groups. The prosecution and conviction of Hafiz Saeed has not happened on the charges of masterminding the Mumbai terror attack but on the charges of terror financing. Pakistan promised to take action against the accused in the terror attacks in Mumbai and Pathankot, but it turned out to be a pretence. It kept on asking India for this or that information and every time it said it was not satisfied with the evidence to prosecute the accused. It is obvious that Pakistan is not serious about taking a comprehensive and effective and sincere action to eliminate terrorism.